By Andy Powers, Staff Writer
Despite their new electro-pop trappings, Fitz and the Tantrums is still running on soul power. The band began firmly in retro-soul territory with 2010’s “Pickin’ Up the Pieces”, but with their sophomore release, “More than Just a Dream,” Fitz and company ditched the horns for synths.
Their new, modern sound brought in success with a mainstream audience and assuaged Fitz’s fear of being typecast as just another retro outfit, however the band also lost some of its distinctive flavor. Both sounds were on full display at the House of Blues on Monday night.
The band is certainly up to the challenge of either style and swapped between their new and old stuff with ease. Whether they were blowing out the speakers with their 2013 pop attack or laying down old school soul on James King’s sax, the band was at the top of their craft.
Any attempt to decide which sound is better would be like comparing apples to oranges; however, the lack of middle ground means that the band loses half the audience at the beginning of each song. Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs, the lead vocalists, managed to bridge this gap by dressing their new songs with gospel-like introductions, and the old songs got a slick layer of polish to bring them into the new decade.
But these temporary fixes do not make for a cohesive image, and the band threatens to continually buck its audience with each new album.
Fans were probably better served by the Tantrums’ tour mates, Capital Cities. Capital Cities also manages to avoid being pigeon-holed as just another retro group, despite a clear disco influence. This band simultaneously makes use of hip hop beats, funky samples, and a trumpet so syrupy it could give Mrs. Butterworth a run for her money, and the result is familiar and cutting edge all at once.
Capital Cities’ sounds like it’s accomplishing what Fitz and the Tantrums are failing at. They have managed to keep retro fresh without losing any of their uniqueness in the process. But Capital Cities are missing the one skill that Fitz and the Tantrums have mastered.
Fitz and the Tantrums have an uncanny ability to make the audience feel as if it were part of the show. The way that Scaggs calls on the audience for “soul power” or the long winded monologues Fitzpatrick unleashes before diving into a song, make it feel as if the band is performing with the crowd, not for it.
The band might cull its audience with each new album, but that only adds to the sense of exclusivity. As long as Fitz and the Tantrums can pull the soul out of whatever genre they find themselves in, they can depend on the crowd for fuel.
By Matt Clarkin, Staff Writer
I can’t say I like live-concerts much. The drinks are a fortune, the mosh-pits a pain, and other fans a drag. So by the time I’ve waited five hours in standing-room-only for my new favorite band to reach the stage, my legs and my patience are a little worse for the wear and leave me wondering if it was worth all that. In fact, I had sworn off live-concerts altogether until, that is, Imagine Dragons came to Boston back in February.
To my surprise, opening band Nico Vega is responsible for the trailer song to Bioshock Infinite called “Beast of America” which is such a good song it could pass for a classic rock anthem (and I was convinced it was a classic for some time even after this concert). The rest of their songs too were both catchy and angry and that always strikes a chord with me. Also, female rock vocalists are usually overrated in my book – except for maybe Hayley Williams and Ellie Goulding – but again Nico Vega’s lead vocalist Aya Volkman won me over.
The second was Australian band Atlas Genius. Following Nico Vega’s powerful guitar riffs they didn’t come up too strong owing to the general softness of their melodies. Atlas Genius didn’t blow me away, but I did download their hit song “Trojans.”
At last Imagine Dragons came onstage with fog-machines working on full-blast and a sweet forest lantern-light stage scene behind them. The music was good, but lacked the luster that comes with their studio editing. Don’t get me wrong, the vocals were good, and the prerecorded tech-synth sounds were fine, but none of the live-songs reflected the same “umph” as their studio-edited mp3 counterparts.
I couldn’t shake the impression that lead vocalist Dan Reynolds put more effort into head-banging, finding things to jump on, and exciting the crowd than actually trying to keep beat or hit all his notes. I can’t say I was listening to a band that played their hearts out; rather, I was watching awesome stage effects while some band went through their set self-consciously, awaiting the praise of their audience. I was obliged to cheer because it was Imagine Dragons, not because the renditions of their own songs were very good.
Despite the concert’s disappointment, there were some rewarding moments. Huge thumbs up to Nico Vega, and a smaller thumbs up to Atlas Genius — even though I wasn’t immensely impressed, they delivered a higher quality music product than the main attraction. Thumbs down to Imagine Dragons for making me lose faith in the real quality of the bands whose mp3’s I love. I’m not much of a moralist, but I found a moral for this one — stay home, and stick with your studio-polished mp3’s because bands are not half as dependable as the download.
By Lucien Flores, Staff Writer
There’s an abundance of exciting shows to check out this weekend in Boston. If you need a rest from the cold or a break from the school grind, then try to nab last-minute tickets to one of these dates.
Alt-J at Paradise Rock Club – Saturday March 2nd and Sunday March 3rd
I mentioned this concert in my start-of-the-semester concert preview but there’s no harm in rehashing the suggestion. While the freshman British band is playing two dates at the intimate Paradise Music Club, good luck getting tickets as both nights are sold out. Don’t fret if searching through Craigslist searching is not your thing, as the band will back in Boston on September 13 at the much-larger Bank of America Pavilion.
In the midst of their meteoric rise, Alt-J announced a world tour so this will be one of the last times you’ll be able to see them in such a cozy environment.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra at Brighton Music Hall – Saturday March 2nd
Unknown Mortal Orchestra has a thick psychedelic 1960s sound that will draw comparison to Tame Impala, however, UMO creates a far more compelling product. Listening to their two albums brings listeners back to an era they likely never experienced. “From The Sun” almost sounds like a lost White Album track and “The Opposite of The Afternoon” is haunting with its whispery vocals.
Opposite of The Afternoon:
Tenacious D at House Of Blues – Saturday March 2nd
If comedy rock is your thing than there are few bigger acts than Tenacious D. Going strong since 1994, Jack Black and Kyle Glass will bring their ridiculous tracks to Boston’s House of Blues.
What to do at home this weekend?
Listen to Youth Lagoon’s newest album, Wondrous Bughouse on NPR. He’ll playing the Boston Calling music festival in late May alongside The National, Of Monsters And Men, and others.
By Sydney Moyer, Music Editor
As my friend and I were getting ready to hop the T to see Purity Ring at the House of Blues last Wednesday, my roommate asked me what kind of show we were going to. My friend and I both looked at one another perplexed and emitted this kind of non-committal hem-haw type noise that I’m tempted to make again as I sit here trying to describe this band in an article.
My friend later informed me that Purity Ring, the Canadian duo (my second one this week!), made up of vocalist Megan James and beatmaster Corin Roddick, was classified as “Intelligent Dance Music” (commonly known as IDM, according to Wikipedia, although I think they fudged that “commonly” descriptor there). While that strikes me as a slightly idiotic name for a genre of music, I have to admit that it seems kind of fitting. Purity Ring is like Grimes in that it incorporates elements commonly found in EDM (bass drops, wub-wubs, reverberant drum beats, etc.), but slowed rhythms and haunting high-pitched vocals illustrate its difference from artists in the traditional EDM vein.
At first, the audience seemed to echo my confusion about the band– was it a dance show? Should there be dancing? Should we just quietly sway back and forth and try not to brush elbows too offensively with the neighbors? However, as James and Roddick wound their way through a set largely made up of their debut album, Shrines, it didn’t seem to matter what type of music it was, just that every single person in the House of Blues seemed to react to it in one way or another. There was fist-pumping and some pushing, but there was also arm-swaying and what looked like interpretive dancing.
Purity Ring’s dreamy synth-infused whatever-you-want-to-label-it brand of music was met with a crazy set and lighting design made up of what looked like eggs or buoys lit up in different colors and hanging from sticks behind the stage, and the combination made for a highly entertaining, totally danceable show, although James needs to work on her stage presence. She has a phenomenal voice perfectly suited to the band’s sound, but if Purity Ring wants to rise to Grimes or Ellie Goulding status in the next few years, they’re going to need a bit more umph than a bunch of fancy egg lights. Judging from what they’ve accomplished so far though, I’d say that day is not far off.
By Alexandria Chong, MUSE Staff Writer
Dillon Francis, Alana Watson and Nero all under one roof? I know, m-a-g-i-c-a-l. The only thing that helped me make it through my two hour accounting midterm was that I was going to see that triple threat right afterwards. On a Tuesday night, one would not expect such a massive audience, but the concert was a sold-out success.
By Meghan DeMouth, Daily Free Press Staff Writer
Too polished to be indie rock and not quite streamlined to be pop, Young the Giant combines grandiose song arcs and laid-back melodies to create a light sound reminiscent of road trips in old cars and sun-drenched days at the beach.
By Alexandria Chong, Muse Staff Writer
Let’s just say, it was a freaking awesome dance party just like Steve and Datsik warned me in their pre-interviews. The DEADMEAT Tour is definitely one show not to miss this year. Although biased as I am a huge fan of both artists, I’d say the audience agrees with me when I say that was one of the best shows I’ve been to. It was full of intense fun and immense energy at all points of the show, everything a concert should be. Playing to a sold-out crowd, both headliners gave body-lifting performances to celebrate Steve’s ‘Wonderland’ album and Datsik’s signage to DIM MAK Records.
By Joseph Difazio, Muse Staff Writer
Celtic punk favorites Flogging Molly came to the House of Blues on Tuesday as part of their Green 17 tour, following opening acts The Devil Makes Three and Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears.
Photos by Erik Rojas, Muse staff
For those of you who missed out on the Matt and Kim show at the House of Blues back in December, here’s a nifty slideshow of shots taken by COM sophomore Erik Rojas for Muse.